SOLO ANDATA: In the Lens CD 12k

soloandata

SOLO ANDATA: In the Lens     CD   12k

This is Solo Andata’s fourth full-length album and unbelievably the first I have encountered personally.   Taking a bed of Dictaphone recordings and analogue instrumentation, this Australian duo blend and break these mediums into a pleasant and enriching mix of subtle, yet space absorbing ambience.

Along the way, SA play with textures and audio remnants of other genres.  As an example, the droning tones of ‘Separate Lovers’, nod at a distant drawn out Jazz key, rather than going the whole hog, whereas ‘Porcelain Blue’ draws on late May Day evenings as silhouettes dance with ribbons in the haze of a setting sun.

‘In the Lens’ is a rich and engrossing affair; and is one of those late afternoon or Summer at dusk recordings where it is all too easy to sit and reminisce about past encounters and what may or may not have been.

9/10

FREDERICO DURAND: A Través Del Espejo CD 12k

fredericodurand

FREDERICO DURAND: A Través Del Espejo   CD 12k

Argentinian composer Durand’s journey onto the 12k label came about when they crossed paths on a tour of Japan; and he is a fine fit.

Frederico creates music that filters through an imaginary veil, ever so slightly muted; adding to the gentle harmonies that bounce, occasionally bursting into sparkling rays of light. Looping pitches and melodies jump from tape reels, fragmented and ever so slightly broken at the edges.

There is a fragility to this album, which demands the listener sit back with full focus to appreciate every slight nuance and flutter. As with most 12k releases, this is best experienced in the silence of a room with nothing but the afternoon sun for company.

My only gripe with this album is that after a while it does get a little too samey the longer it goes on. This however, is a small price to pay, for what is by and large, a hypnotically enjoyable affair.

8/10

TAYLOR DEUPREE & MARCUS FISCHER: Twine CD 12k

twine

TAYLOR DEUPREE & MARCUS FISCHER: Twine   CD 12k

The last time we saw this duo together was on 2011’s ‘In a Place of Such Graceful Shapes’. Both have done other output individually and experimented with other artists, but I enjoyed their last release together and was looking forward to hearing this; safe to say, it doesn’t disappoint.

The gentle harmonics of ‘Draw’ opens this release up perfectly. It’s currently a mild winter as I sit here in this room looking out on what has been a dark, drizzly afternoon and this song just fits my current relaxed state.

Looped drones and acoustic instrumentation, should always work well together if the artists involved have any concept of what they’re doing, or indeed have the talent required. Deupree and Fischer have this in abundance and as one-song flutters into the next, it’s easy to watch the world go by from a raindrop-covered window, with the slow motion soundtrack that they provide. It also leaves me with little to say or do, other than to smile and nod in appreciation for the majority of this release.

8/10

KENNETH KIRSCHNER: Compressions & Rarefactions CD 12k

kennethkirschner

KENNETH KIRSCHNER: Compressions & Rarefactions CD 12k

Kirschner has released a wide variety of work over the years and this latest is the 4th on the 12k label, whom by and large have released nothing but quality, for the majority of albums I have got my mitts on.  I have to confess to not hearing any of Kenneth’s works up to this point; and to be fair; the overblown press bumpf doesn’t actually sell him to me.

KK’s work has often been described as “challenging” and to some; I feel it most likely is.  Blending a pool of electronic and chamber music isn’t anything I haven’t heard before, plodding on it’s way and occasionally flirting with Drone.

‘Compressions & Rarefactions’ does have its moments.  Spangling instrumentation occasionally shines a brief light along the way, but is over in a flash; and when KK is actually onto something, he tends to meander and admire these spectacular interruptions, until they outstay their welcome.

I will give credit where it’s due though.  Kenneth does know how to play a multitude of instrumentation; and when he sets his mind to it, he does it with degree of professionalism.  Prolific as he is, for those that dare venture, there is a further mammoth 6.5 hours of music (in the form of a digital download) that comes with this CD.  I have to abstain however, as there are only so many hours in the day; and whilst I respect the effort that has gone into this album, I simply have more emotive things to listen to.

7/10

RYUICHI SAKAMOTO/ILLUHA/TAYLOR DUPREE: Perpetual CD 12k

sakamotodupree

RYUICHI SAKAMOTO/ILLUHA/TAYLOR DUPREE: Perpetual CD 12k

Sakamoto, Illuha and Dupree join forces on this collaboration; and this latest release is the performance they gave together one wet summer in Japan, including a joint installation marking their 10-year anniversary as artists and performers.

Separated into three ‘Movements’, ‘Perpetual’ captures the individual strains and textures that each of this trio bring to the table. Never before have these three artists worked together; and the ease at which everything folds into place, shows they were tailor made for each other.

Pump organs, piano, guitar and synth; flow as a blissful wave of ambient dreamscapes and textured air. Clouds of analogue and digital frequencies drift together and diffuse the silence, which is a prominent factor in giving each instrument it’s own platform to shine.

As a whole, ‘Perpetual’ demands attention and a vast degree of patience. Given the time however, there is much to become enveloped and engrossed in, as glitch-ridden droplets of sound cling to the skin of your ears and drench the listener’s soul from within.

8.5/10

ILLUHA: Akari CD 12k

illuha

ILLUHA: Akari CD 12k

Tokyo’s two-piece Illuha, return with their 3rd album, following 2011’s ‘Shizuku’ and 2013’s ‘Interstices’. With a naturist slant to their ambient, subtle background summer garden noises are mixed with flowing pads and background drones, whilst plucking instruments intersect with resonating hums.

Illuha play with gentle noise along the way, breathing out subtle field recordings as a foundation. Reverberated piano is infused into the mix along the way, providing the higher end of the range, whilst lower end frequencies twist and whirl on the lower end of the spectrum.

‘Akari’ requires patience and space to sit and take it all in; ‘The Relationship of Gravity to the Persistence of Sound’, being a highlight of the album as a whole, taking their commitment to a new level and keep a consistency throughout the song. Occasionally, Illuha stumble on a few tracks where things can tend to get a tad tedious; and luckily this song focuses the listener at a key point in the album, where it’s starting to get a trifle dull.

As a full release, Illuha’s latest work is a mixed bag; when it shines, it is truly magnificent. There are however just a few moments where things tend to stagnate; which is a pity as this has all the ingredients to be truly great, although it is worth picking up just for those momentary flashes of brilliance alone.

7.5/10

JANEK SCHAEFER: Lay-By Lullaby CD 12k

janekschaeferlullaby

JANEK SCHAEFER: Lay-By Lullaby CD 12k

Schaefer has been around producing aural installations for the past 20 years or so; and this is his first for the 12k label, pleasantly opening up with harmonic drones and filtered sounds of driven field recordings (usually a process I detest).

‘Lay-By Lullaby’ is one of those albums that demand the listener sits down, filters out any distractions and soaks up the subtle wave upon wave of ambient beauty. The 12 tracks created could all filter through as one long song and thankfully, Janek has separated them up into individual moments in time (‘Radio 101FM’, ‘Radio 102 FM’ etc.).

What I love about this release is that you can almost imagine yourself parked in a car at the side of a lonely country road, with fogged up windows and rain hitting the windscreen, contemplating what life has thrown at you. There is a natural feel to the album where there is a direct synergy between the field recordings and pads and it’s all too easy to just become engrossed in the hypnotic bliss, reminding me of some respects of some of the works by Fennesz.

At the end of the release there is a feeling that the clouds have broken just as the sun, sinks over the hillside horizon; and there is a feeling of satisfaction once the album comes to completion. ‘Lay-By Lullaby’ won’t be one for everyone, but I am sucker for well placed ambient and Janek Schaefer has constructed a reflective story that’s worthy and heartfelt.

9/10

MOSKITOO: Mitosis CD 12k

moskitoo

MOSKITOO: Mitosis  CD 12k

Tokyo’s Sanae Yamasaki finds time between her day job creating sounds for Japanese television and IOS app’s, once again; producing her second album for the impressive roster of the label 12k.

I am really taken with a lot of Japan’s electronic music scene at the moment and ‘Mitosis’ is no exception.  Opening up with subtle glitch, swirling backwards electronics and harmonies lay a comfy foundation for Yamakasi’s vocals to glide over the top.

Obscure as many of the sounds are upon Moskitoo’s latest output, the attention to detail coupled with an ear for composition allows the IDM influence to flow well musically, bringing the whole into a more easy listening experience.

Concentrating on a more ambient soundtrack feel, the majority of this latest album finds its home as an aural accompaniment to sitting on a balcony late at night whilst the bustling neon city lights flicker way in the distance.  As electronic as the album is, there is an earthly feeling to this 12 tracker that distances itself in a natural way.

Genuinely pleasant to listen to, ‘Mitosis’ is one of those albums that captures a moment in time; never invasive and massaging the senses with ghostly apparitions.  Sanae’s latest work is a wonderfully refreshing approach to the genre that whilst being done before, rarely crops up nowadays in a market that is awash with nonsensical skittish beats.

9/10

RYUICHI SAKAMOTO + TAYLOR DEUPREE: Disappearance CD 12k

ryuichi+deupree

RYUICHI SAKAMOTO + TAYLOR DEUPREE: Disappearance  CD 12k

The duo of Sakamoto and Deupree smacks initially of a possible classic in waiting.  Utilising isolation, solitude and contemplation as a source for inspiration, it is of no surprise that the majority of this album is ambient in nature.

Awash with obscurity, ‘Disappearance’ utilises field recordings amongst bowed harmonies and the odd displaced piano key; the latter rearing it’s head prominently on the unnerving ‘Ghost Road’.

Sonically broad, given patience there is a lot for the more intensive listener to envelop themselves within here.  ‘Disappearance’ as an album is not for the more casual, part-time ambient enthusiast, who may dismiss this as just another album from the genre; and in part that is this albums only failing.

Personally, I find this latest output a tale of two halves that run parallel to one another track by track.  Split down the middle a lot of this release sounds fairly generic, where the airy drones meander along in a lucid fashion without excitement.  Layered above however are careful strokes of other sounds that do pick apart at the foundations, giving a lease of desperate life to what could have been a fairly average affair; and that is where the magic in this release ultimately lies.

8/10

MARSEN JULES: The Endless Change of Colour CD 12k

marsenjules

MARSEN JULES: The Endless Change of Colour  CD 12k

Taking a deep breath, I pressed play on this one-track album in the stark realisation that this was going to be a lengthy journey lasting just over 47 minutes.  As one long story though, this isn’t the frightening task that on paper first seemed to be, with the majority of this opus providing a space in time to sit back and let images flow through your head randomly.

Droning layers of ambient open up the album, parallel to one another and gently numb the senses.  Subtle intersections of other tones and indeed, colour inducing waves of sound are blended together and pulsate like waves that intertwine along the way.

The difficulty in reviewing an album such as this is, is that I have just expressed the entirety of the release in one paragraph alone.  There isn’t anything else that can be said about ‘The Endless Change of Colour’; and whilst providing me some respite from the daily humdrum that life throws at me, as well put together and pleasant as this is, it would have benefitted more from being broken down into individual tracks.

7.5/10